There are many new faces on the 2021-22 Matawan Regional High School boys basketball team, which has started the campaign with losses against talented squads from Marlboro and Holmdel high schools.
Junior Colin Haluska is the lone starter back from a team that went 9-5 during the 2020-21 season that was cut short during the coronavirus pandemic.
Coach John Giraldo is developing a new group of players as the Huskies play for the present and for the future.
“We want to compete and grow as a team from the start of the season to the end of the season,” Giraldo said. “We want to qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament and make a nice run in the state sectional tournament as we grow for next year.”
A year ago, Haluska played well in his first season as a full-time starter as he averaged 8.1 points per game. For the season, he connected on 22 three-point field goals.
Giraldo expects Haluska to have a successful junior campaign. The coach said his forward has been a strong leader for the newcomers on the squad.
“He has been on varsity since he was a freshman and has a lot of experience to lead our inexperienced group,” Girlado said of Haluska. “The younger guys all look up to him.”
Senior Kyle Haliburton, freshman Chauncy Brown and sophomores Brian Charles Gagneron and Kyeshaun Sylvester are expected to join Haluska in the starting lineup.
Sylvester, a transfer from Red Bank Catholic High School, will run the offense at point guard. Giraldo said the sophomore has “all the tools” to be successful in that role.
Gagneron will team up with Sylvester in the backcourt. The duo of Brown and Haliburton will play inside, with Haluska seeing time on the blocks and on the perimeter.
Junior Aaron Kalish, sophomore Chris Galasso, and seniors Kobe Miller and Jarrett Norman are expected to contribute off the bench.
Freshman Jayden Elijah could see action in the frontcourt rotation, Giraldo said.
In a Shore Conference realignment, Matawan has moved from the B North Division to the A Central Division and will play some of the top teams in the conference, including Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank Catholic, Holmdel and Raritan.
Giraldo understands the tough task the Huskies are facing, but the coach believes playing that level of opponents on a regular basis will make his squad better in the long run.
“Competing at this high level of basketball is just going to prepare us more for the state tournament and the whole season. It’s great preparation for us in building for the future,” he said.
Matawan will host the Huskies Holiday Classic during the winter break. The Huskies will face Seton Hall Prep on Dec. 27 in the first round of the tournament.